Book Review: Same Difference by Siobhan Vivan
Emily is ready for a change. She’s been in the same town with the same friends for a long time…and none of them really understand her art. But when she goes to Philadelphia for a summer art institute, she suddenly finds like-minded people. One in particular, Fiona, intrigues and challenges her. But there are some things Emily is going to have to find out for herself — like what the balance is between life and art, and which is more important when push comes to shove.
I had some issues with the end of this book, which I’ll address in a bit, but for the most part I enjoyed this book. I could definitely relate to Emily. She doesn’t really know where she fits in. She’s so used to going along with what everyone else has planned for her, and she’s just starting to question that and discover who it is that she wants to be. The writing was fantastic. Vivian does a great job of making you feel like you’re really there. I found myself paying attention to the descriptions in a way I never have before. I could picture what was going on, and I could really understand why Emily felt the way she did most of the time.
This novel also brought back of positive memories for me. I was totally in those same art classes in school. I remember making potato stamps. I can also think back to my writing classes and understand her hesitance to draw in public, even though she knows she’s being ridiculous. I can also understand why Emily was so afraid of sharing her work with others.
Really, I think that is one of the best parts of the book – you can understand why people do the things they do. They act like real people would act. Even the side characters have their own personalities and flaws. There are no good/evil people; there are just people who do things that hurt others, sometimes on accident and sometimes on purpose.
That said, I did have some issues with this book, but I can’t discuss them without giving stuff away. There will be some spoilers from this point on. You have been warned.
First of all – Meg. I couldn’t stand her. Since I usually like books for the completely opposite reason everyone else likes them, I’ll admit that everyone else probably loved her and thought that Emily was the mean one. But really, I couldn’t stand Meg. Trying to guilt your friend into going to a party that she doesn’t want to go to is mean. Yes, Emily should have been honest with her, but it is not her fault that Meg didn’t tell her how “important” that night was to her. It’s not Emily’s job to talk Meg out of having sex. It’s Meg’s job not to have sex if she doesn’t want to have sex. So blaming Emily for not being there to talk her out of it is just bitchy.
And Meg wasn’t really a good friend at all for most of the summer. She doesn’t care about Emily’s art. She sits by and laughs while her boyfriend vandalizes her sketchbook. She sets her up on a date with this guy without even asking Emily if that’s what she wants. She and her boyfriend make fun of art when they know it’s important to Emily. I’m sorry, but it something’s important to your friend, you should try to support them, even if you don’t understand it. Sort of like how Emily always sat and listened to Meg’s stories about her boyfriend, even though she wasn’t really interested. Funny how the same rules don’t apply now that Emily’s the one who’s off doing her own thing.
So, yeah, I despised Meg. Yes, even though she went to the art show.
I never completely trusted Fiona, but I could sort of understand why she did what she did in the end. What I don’t understand is why Emily just forgave her so fast. The end is where I stopped really liking the book. Emily was completely selfish when she was talking to Yates after they were told on. Yes, she eventually apologized for that, but I think this is a major event that’s just sort of glossed over. Screw Fiona and Emily – Yates has now lost his job and his credibility, and no one seems to care. That part annoys me.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the book. I loved the writing style, and I could definitely see this happening in real life. I may not have liked all of the characters, but I felt they acted realistically. I’m looking forward to reading more of Vivian’s works.